Preparing SMEs to face new business challenges

If you think that setting up a brick-and-mortar shop these days is passe, think again. Multimillion-dollar e-commerce womenswear label Love, Bonito will be opening its second physical store next month.

It simply went against the grain of fashion and retail logic when it launched its first flagship store at 313@Somerset in October last year.

Known for its highly successful business model in the online space, the home-grown fashion brand now has 11 physical stores in the region.

“Retail is not dying – only traditional retail is,” says Love, Bonito co-founder Rachel Lim. In fact, there is a positive synergy between online and offline retailing.

“In a world where consumers can shop for anything they want online anytime, we need to give them a good enough reason to come down to our stores, like an experience that they cannot get online,” explained the gritty 31-year-old entrepreneur.

Ms Lim will share what this “X” factor in-store experience is in a seminar organised by The Business Times this week.

Titled Outlook 2019, it is meant to help small and medium-sized enterprises prepare for an uncharted business landscape shaped by disruption and unprecedented geopolitical developments. The two half-day seminars will be held on Thursday and Friday at Marina Bay Sands. Among the speakers will be Professor Joseph Liow and Professor Danny Quah, the dean of S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, respectively; and Nanyang Technological University economics professor Ng Yew Kwang.

Joining Ms Lim on the subject of running a business in the face of uncertainty are Dr Robert Yap, executive chairman of YCH Group, and Dr Andrew Seit, chief executive officer of Teck Sang.

Nielsen Singapore executive director of consumer insights Garick Kea, and Global Blue managing director Jan Moller will shed light on interesting consumer insights and tourism trends respectively, while Mr Lam Yi Young, deputy secretary at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, will share how the Government is working with the private sector on transforming for the future.

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